Human beings are fundamentally different creatures with distinguishing traits. The mind, then, automatically categorizes other humans into groups according to these factors (Aronson, Wilson, Akert, & Sommers, 2016, p. 415). This is not an inherently negative feature, but issues arise when categorization morphs into stereotype, discrimination, or even overt violence. History has seen this category-based-violence manifested into mass murder multiple times in the case of the Nazi extermination of Jewish people and other minority groups and the Armenian Genocide. In the case of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, about one million people, primarily Tutsi, were killed (Uvin, 2001, p. 75). During Belgian colonization, the Tutsi held the majority of the power, but the Hutus took power as the country gained independence from Europe (Bonner, p. 2). After regaining power, Hutu now had the means and opportunity to not only ensure they remained in the echelons of society and politics, but also eradicate the Tutsi, who they believed were disgustingly inferior, and enact revenge. Although the tragedy of this event and similar extinctions can never be justified, social psychological theories dealing with prejudice may help explain the reasons that led the Hutus to turn to egregious brutality.
What were the differences between the two groups? Westerners often considered them ethnically similar, and even indistinguishable, because they spoke the same language and intermarried (Bonner, 1994, p. 16).